Recently I have had a number of parents turn to me for advice on how to handle their middle/high schooler. I will admit that I was a bit shocked when the first asked me point blank how he could get rid of the yelling, disrespect, and arguing plaguing his house of tweens. I was able to talk through coping strategies that I use when in the classroom, and even congratulated myself for pulling a few gems from my own home life.
When the next set(s) of parents asked for advice I gave them my very best. I was able to speak to the behaviors I had seen in the classroom and offer them a different look at their child. A fresh set of eyes from someone who sees their child in a completely different context than any parent will ever be able to experience.
I have a policy that if I am going to talk to you about a negative I am experiencing with your child, that I will follow it with at least two positives. I truly feel that if I am not able to name at least two positive things about a student that I am not serving that child to the fullest of my abilities.
For awhile I began to feel like the middle-schooler whisperer. I was hearing positive feedback from parents and seeing growth in those kids whose parents had asked for advice. A teacher with a cause, a Jedi perhaps? Until...
Until I found myself sitting in the Kroger parking lot crying in front of my own wonderful child,(Cue Finest Moment music) asking him what was going on and why he treated me with such disrespect. In my head I knew that it was 'tween angst, but in my heart I was a failure. You see, these past few months have been rocky at my own home at times. I had met puberty again and it was making me its bitch...again.
I'm a thinker, a muller. I set myself to this thought process of how could I better serve my own child, my own household? First, find someone to talk to who has either been through it or is plowing through it currently. Luckily I have a wonderful group of friends who are supportive experts and not judgmental. Apparently I am lucky in this regard.
Next, I listened to my child's teachers when they spoke about him. I mean I really listened to those experts - present and past. Seeing him in that different light was so very helpful.
And then, myself. I remembered what it felt like to not have control over anything in my life, especially not what was happening to my body. I mean, what a cruel joke to have a period AND a breast that's one size smaller than the other all while wearing glasses, braces, and HORMONES!
I have never been a 12 yr old boy, but I have been a 12 yr old girl and it sucked.
I have decided to listen to my child, students, friends, parents, and other experts more. I will also listen less to my own Jedi mind tricks and not buy into my own hype. I will remember that we are all experts and we are all failures. It is how we help each through the drudgery of life that truly makes us an expert.
So, be my expert and I will be yours fellow parents. We got through this once, we can do it again?!